Former Miss America swimsuit winner Nancy Amanda Redd has written a candid book for teen girls, "Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers," that tackles some of the most common -- but often confusing and embarrassing -- issues girls face. Read an excerpt below.
Introduction: No Body's Perfect
You'd think a Miss America swimsuit winner would feel completely confident about her body, right? Think again! What? You feel like you're the first girl in the world to suffer from back acne, saggy breasts, or bad breath? Puh-leaze! I've been dealing with body drama almost since the day I was born. So have I, you might be thinking, but the problem is that I, like a lot of you, thought I was the only one who felt that her body was a natural disaster. For the longest time, I hated my body and all the stuff it did (and didn't) do. Although I was happy about how I looked in nice outfits and perfect makeup, underneath all the layers I truly thought I was a weird, stinky girl with a lot of body problems.
I don't know about you, but I've always been curious to know what other women's bodies really look like underneath their clothes. Not sexually, but in a "is my body as hideously deformed as I think it is?" kind of way. Lacking a sister (and not having the infamous "locker room experience" in high school), I had no way of knowing if the gross stuff that happened to me was normal. Was I the only one who grew hair in strange places? Found yucky stuff in my underwear? Had deep dents on my thighs? Did other women have clots during their period or poo problems or pimples on their backs? From what I saw in the media, it certainly didn't seem that they did. No one on TV or in magazines ever had pit stains or stretch marks! Unfortunately, aside from airbrushed pornography and too-thin supermodels, the unrealistic illustrations that all other body books use to show "normal" women were the only bodies I could sneak peeks at.
I couldn't find real photographs of actual women, and I couldn't find the help I needed on other embarrassing issues. Because legitimate guidance on how to deal with day-to-day worries like bad breath, embarrassing nipple hair, ashy skin, or split ends didn't exist, I assumed I was the only one who was doomed to suffer from them.
We girls are under tremendous pressure to conform to absurd physical ideals, but we have too few worthwhile tools to help us understand ourselves and care for our natural bodily leaks, creaks, and crevices. It's just not fair! Let's face it: Most health books are filled with bland information and boring, barely accurate drawings. I haven't a clue who the model was for the drawing of the naked woman in the body book I got for my thirteenth birthday, but she in no way resembled ME. When comparing and contrasting my body parts to the vaguely sketched ones in health books, I felt like the punch line of a cruel joke. And don't get me started on the penciled pictures detailing how to give myself a breast exam! The crudely drawn charcoal boob looked nothing like my own! How can we expect cartoons to teach us how to take care of ourselves and convince us that our bodies are normal and OK?